Danica Patrick Hopes To Make A Splash At Daytona

Danica Patrick

As Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) approach the middle of the season, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams return to the sunny shores of Daytona Beach, Florida for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

With 16 races complete, the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team has earned five top-20 finishes, including a season-best 10th-place result at Dover (Del.) International Speedway earlier this month. Patrick has led a total of seven laps and is currently ranked 28th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings.

When the season kicked off at Daytona in February, Patrick started the Daytona 500 from the 12th position and was scored as high as second near the midpoint of the race. With less than 80 laps to go, the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford was collected in a 17-car accident that ended the team’s day early and left Patrick with a 33rd-place finish.

While the season opener at Daytona didn’t end well for the No. 10 team, Patrick has experienced success at the track in the past, including a history-making performance at the 2.5-mile track in 2013. That year, she became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the Daytona 500. Patrick led twice for a total of five laps in that event, becoming the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race, as well as the first woman to lead a NASCAR race under green-flag conditions. She finished the race eighth, setting the mark for the highest finishing position ever for a woman in the “Great American Race.”

The following July, Patrick added an eighth-place finish in the Coke Zero 400. In 10 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona, those two eighth-place efforts mark her top results at the track. Patrick has also started seven NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Daytona and scored her best finish of 10th in July 2011. She won the pole for the February 2012 event.

When the NASCAR Cup Series teams return to the high banks of Daytona for Saturday night’s race, the weather forecast for the beach town predicts temperatures nearing 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As the summer heat cranks up in Daytona, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team will be ready to have a fun night at the track and hope to close out the race by celebrating a top finish in the Coke Zero 400 with an ice-cold Coca-Cola.

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Your team was a part of the Daytona test earlier this season. Was there anything that was tried at the test that might come into play as you return?

“There wasn’t really anything racing-wise that moved the needle, but there were some things that were tried to make the cars lift off less easily if they get spun around backwards, so that was fine. It didn’t really change anything, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those kinds of changes were implemented for speedway racing. But, other than that, the racing was all very similar and, like we all said, there were five of us. You can go out in a pack of 15 and still not really know before the race, and then you get into the race and then you know. It’s pretty hard to really have a race-like scenario. You don’t even want a race-like scenario at a superspeedway unless you’re actually racing because it’s risky. There’s a chance for big accidents and that’s just silly in practice, but I think it was still somewhat productive – as productive as a superspeedway test could go.”

What is it about Daytona International Speedway that you like?

“I think I’ve always had the good fortune of driving for good teams that have good cars. I also think that my IndyCar background is very similar to the style of racing that the superspeedways bring to NASCAR. That was full-speed, flat-out, don’t-lift-if-you-don’t-have-to racing where you have to keep your momentum up and lots of big-pack racing. For me, that was a big comfort zone when I came over to NASCAR, that it was a lot like the IndyCar days of driving on mile-and-a-half speedways. It’s all about having an awareness of what’s around you, making good decisions and trying to stay out of trouble until the end.”

Describe the intensity of restrictor-plate racing.

“It’s super easy to drive around the track flat-out by yourself. It’s not hard at all. When you put all of the other cars around you, it’s not necessarily about how the car feels on the track, although that can be an issue, for sure, at times. It’s more about what everyone else is doing around you. You’re constantly looking at what’s happening in front of you. You’re also looking at what’s behind you. Probably more important than what’s happening in front of you is what’s happening behind you – who’s coming, who’s following you, who’s helping you move forward. There have been plenty of times that I’ve gone to the bottom and complained, ‘Where’s my help?’ It seems like I’ll slot in on the bottom line and then everyone behind me disappears. You really have to have people behind you, pushing you. The race is constantly evolving and you and your spotter have to be on it. It’s a big race for spotters, so having a really good one that you trust is very important.”

What are three words that describe restrictor-plate races?

“Three words that describe plate racing would be: crazy, fast and risky.”

Aspen Dental Racing Team Report

Round 17 of 36 – Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola – Daytona

Car No.: 10 – Aspen Dental Ford Fusion

 

At-Track PR Contact: Annette Randall, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 805, Annette.Randall@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Danica Patrick

Hometown: Roscoe, Illinois

 

Crew Chief: Billy Scott

Hometown: Land O’ Lakes, Florida

 

Car Chief: Tony Cardamone

Hometown: Bristol, Virginia

 

Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines

Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples

Hometown: Hudson, Illinois

 

Spotter: Brandon Benesch

Hometown: Cumberland, Wisconsin

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Justin Wilson

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa

 

Second Gas Man: Nate Spoor

Hometown: Penn Yan, New York

 

Front Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard

Hometown: King, North Carolina

 

Windshield: Kyle Anderson (also serves as interior mechanic)

Hometown: Jewell, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Jonathan Sherman

Hometown: Monroe, Louisiana

 

Jackman: Nate House

Hometown: Gastonia, North Carolina

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Jeremy Howard

Hometown: Dalhart, Texas

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Wayne Anderson and Larry Lush

Hometown: West Covina, California and Waynesville, North Carolina, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire

Hometown: Palmyra, New York

 

Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn

Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut

 

Engineers: Scott Bingham and William Lee

Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, respectively

 

Underneath Mechanic: Nick McIntosh

Hometown: Havre, Montana

 

Front End Mechanic: Joe Zanolini

Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania

Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola Notes of Interest: 
  • The Coke Zero 400 will mark Danica Patrick’s 171st career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has competed in 10 races at the NASCAR Cup Series level at the 2.5-mile superspeedway and she’s earned two eighth-place finishes (February 2013 and July 2014). She’s led a total of seven laps in NASCAR Cup Series competition at the track.
  • Patrick in the Xfinity Series at Daytona: Patrick has started seven NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Daytona and scored her best finish of 10th in July 2011. She won the pole for the February 2012 event.
  • Patrick in the ARCA Series at Daytona: In her first stock car start of any kind, Patrick started 12th and finished a respectable sixth in the February 2010 ARCA race at Daytona
  • Returning Home: When the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Daytona for this weekend’s race, it will be a homecoming event for Billy Scott, crew chief of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team. The Land O’Lakes, Florida native’s passion for motorsports began when he started racing at age 5. As a kid, Scott raced anything he could, from three-wheelers to motorcycles and go-karts. As his racing career progressed through the ranks at paved short tracks across Florida, Scott competed in a variety of race vehicles including, Mini Stocks, Street Stocks, open-wheel Modifieds and Late Model stock cars. He joined SHR at the end of 2015.
  • Vote for Danica: Kids across America have nominated Patrick for two Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards: “Queen of Swag” and “Need for Speed.” Fans can vote by visiting Nick.com/KCS. The show, hosted by Russell Wilson, is scheduled to air on Nickelodeon onSunday, July 16 at 8 p.m. EDT.
  • Aspen Dental: With more than 600 offices in 36 states, Aspen Dental-branded practices offer patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to get the full range of dental care they need along with the convenience and speed of onsite denture labs. That’s why the Aspen Dental network of independent dental care providers is one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. and saw more than 1.5 million patients in 2016. To find out more about how Aspen Dental practices make it simply easier for each of their patients to get the healthy mouth they deserve, visit AspenDental.com.
  • For the History Books: Since Patrick began competing in NASCAR on a part-time basis in 2010, she has made plenty of history. Here is a recap of how she has altered the record books through the years:
    • Became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Daytona 500.
    • Led laps 90 to 91 of the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race. She also led laps 127 to 129.
    • Became the first woman to lead a NASCAR race under green (Daytona 2013). Janet Guthrie led five laps under yellow in 1977 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.
    • Finished 2013 Daytona 500 in eighth place, the highest finishing position ever for a woman in the “Great American Race.”
    • Finished 10th in 2012 Xfinity Series points, the highest points finish by a woman in the history of NASCAR’s top three series (Cup, Xfinity, Truck).
    • Competed in every NASCAR Cup Series race in 2013, becoming the first female driver to complete an entire season in the series.
    • Became the first female to compete in the non-points NASCAR All-Star race (2013) and Sprint Unlimited (2014).
    • Have the most starts of any female in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
    • With six top-10 finishes, holds the record for the most top-10 finishes of any female in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
  • History Maker in IndyCar: Patrick became the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel race in a North American series in April 2008 by winning the IndyCar Series Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan.
  • Big Stage: In seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Patrick finished in the top-10 six times, including a third-place result in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in the historic race.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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